October 24, 2003
Have you been watching the World Series on Fox (NYSE: FOX ) this past week? Somewhere between all of the ads, I swear I saw some baseball action actually wedged in there. I mean, I'm getting more ads than Alfonso Soriano's batting glove adjustments between pitches.
I'm not talking about the allotted commercial breaks, though if I see Rafael Palmeiro pitch Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE ) Viagra one more time, I don't know what I'll do. We all understand that ad spots are a small inconvenience in exchange for free televised entertainment. No, I'm talking about all of the product placements during the broadcast itself.
Do we really need to see Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) AOL mascot graphic darting all over the screen while the game is on? Do we really need to put up with irrelevant celebrity interviews and insulting poll questions just so Sprint (NYSE: FON ) and Sprint PCS (NYSE: PCS ) can show off their brand? Do I need the entire Fox programming lineup to snag the bottom of my screen every few minutes?
As economic realists, we understand why every exhale seems to have some kind of corporate backing in sports these days. Salaries are high. Milking more sponsor dollars from big game broadcasts will allow teams to generate even larger contracts from the major networks to pay the bills. But what if this doesn't stop here?
We were warned that this would happen in the TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) generation. With couch potatoes armed with the technology to zap through commercial breaks, the ads would find a way to blend into the content. It won't be long before Carrot Top shows up on E.R. explaining proper collect-call dialing procedures to someone in need of an ambulance. It won't be long before Jennifer Garner's character on Alias gets rescued by AOL's cute little running man.
Heck, I hear he's going to pinch-hit for Soriano in Game Six tomorrow, too. The way sponsors keep crowding the content plate, I wouldn't put it past them these days. Man!
How do you think the World Series will play itself out over the weekend? Yankees dominate at home? The Miraculous Marlins find a storybook ending? All this and more -- in the Major League Baseball discussion board. Only on Fool.com.